Buyer alert: Do-it-yourself
Have you ever considered
genetic testing? Increasingly, people
are taking do-it-yourself genetic tests
from companies that market directly to
Taking the test usually involves
mailing a blood or saliva sample back
to the company and paying a $200 to
$2,000 fee. A few weeks later you’ll
learn about your risk factors for various
health problems. For example, you
could learn that you have an increased
risk to develop glaucoma, or that you
carry the gene for cystic fibrosis.
The results of genetic testing can be
Before taking a genetic test on your
own, here are some tips:
1) Discuss it with your doctor.
Would your results make you
eligible for specific medical screening
or treatment? If not, testing may
needlessly cause anxiety or worry.
You may want to consult with your
doctor about testing.
2) Learn about the limitations.
Some tests aren’t scientifically
proven, so cannot accurately
predict your chances of actually
developing a health problem. In the
end, you may not get very useful
3) Find out who can answer your
questions. Some testing companies
have genetic counsellors on staff to
help you, before or after testing.
4) Find out how you get your results.
Some companies provide results
online. Whatever the method, be
sure it is secure and that you are
comfortable with it.
5) Ask what happens to your DNA
sample after the test. Some companies
keep leftover DNA for research.
Also, what happens to your DNA if
the company changes ownership or
6) Be proactive about your results.
Talk to your health-care provider about
whether you need to make changes to
your lifestyle or health care.
Deciding whether to have genetic testing
is challenging, and the test results can
be complex. Genetic testing is best done
within the health-care system with a
genetic counsellor who can tell you
about the pros and cons of testing, and
can explain your results. You can get
a referral for genetic counselling from